Grace Coddington may have stepped down as creative director at US Vogue , but Anna Wintour’s right-hand woman certainly isn’t slowing down.
Now 76, the flame-haired Welsh-born former model is busier than ever with her own perfume, the re-release of her 2002 4.5kg coffee-table book Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue, and of course helping at Vogue when she has the time.
There’s even talk of a film being made from her 2012 autobiography, Grace: A Memoir.
“Every billboard, fashion magazine spread, every advertisement we see today has been influenced by Grace Coddington,” said R.J. Cutler, the director of The September Issue, the must-see doco Grace originally wanted to boycott.
UK beauty site Into The Gloss caught up with the interminable fashion force to glean some of her secrets to staying so gorgeous.
When we started working with the nose on Grace by Grace Coddington, I said I wanted something pure. I love the smell of roses, but I’ve gone through so many perfumes that just cling and make you feel claustrophobic. I like something that’s fresh but still smelled of roses. The first fragrance I wore was from Floris, just a very light toilet water—I like the old-fashioned-ness of it. And then I had a Calvin era…he brought me to America, so I wore the first Calvin Klein fragrance for a while. But that’s a little strong, and I hate strong things. More recently, I wore the Hermés Rose Ikebana. I love the Hermés perfumes. I think they’re amazing, really amazing.
Makeup is a part of my everyday life but I do try to play it down. I wear as little as I can get away with. Obviously if I feel that I’m getting red or a blemish, then I put more foundation on—I’ve been using Chanel foundation and concealer for years—but normally I would try to have no foundation on at all. But the thing is, I have this big scar on my eye because I had a car crash when I was 20, and so I always have to put some makeup to balance it because I had a skin graft, so I have to match it to the other one. The best thing is just to put a lot of foundation on the other eye because the skin around your eyes—or around mine anyway—tends to be dark. Otherwise I don’t mind black rings under the eyes, but when you put cover-up in one place, you feel like you have to put it everywhere to even it all out. My favorite lipstick is one that’s discontinued—Sebastian Trucco Stain Sheer 76955. It feels like a lipgloss but looks like a stain because it’s sheer and moisturising but has colour. And I put it on quite thick. And then I also use the Dolce and Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Ultra. The texture of it’s really nice.
I never did anything at all [for my skin] until very recently, actually. As I got older, my skin did get drier. But I also started dealing with rosacea a couple of years ago, which is just a nightmare. I look like I’m blushing all the time—and sometimes I am. But sometimes I’m actually not. I’ve taken medication for it, but I’ve also tried laser, which can work, but afterwards, your skin gets even more sensitive. There’s a good and a bad side to that.
Sun is also something I have to be careful about. In summer, I have to wear a hat all the time. And put heavy sun lotion underneath. Three years ago I had a lot of sun damage, so I also had a treatment where you put cream on every day for like 14 days, and then you get a big scab—but afterwards my skin was amazing. My dermatologist is Dr. Orentreich and now most of my skincare is what he sells.
The colour’s always been pretty red, actually, and I just added a bit to it since the late ‘70s. I started off just by henna-ing it after I got it all cut off. I started growing it, hid it for a while under a hat, then I permed it again. I mean it’s really been through some things… [Now,] it’s kind of bristly and dry, but I like it like that. It’s Louis Licari [who colors my hair]. He’s been taking care of me since I came to America. Now, I have to go every two weeks because I’ve got white hair now. I’ve thought about letting it go white, but the process of growing it out is kind of torturous. I’d have to hide for a year. Or I guess I could wear a hat again.
I wash it about once a week because it’s very dry, and actually, it looks the best after two or three days usually. The waves come back. It looks the best if it just airdries, but I’m usually in a hurry and late, so I just blowdry it. And then brush it. Louis just gave me Milbon Deesse’s For Natural Color Design Hair Treatment to use when I do wash it. At the salon, they put it on, wash it off, put it on, wash it off, put it on, wash it off… But it’s not heavy and sticky like conditioner often can be. I use Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Shampoo, because at one point my hair was really falling out, so I started going to him, and he’s incredible. Because hair really is so important—I’ve always thought it was the most important part of a photograph. Makes it or breaks it.